Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:
Question: After the recent water outages in Asheville, it made me wonder about the Biltmore Estate. As far as I know, it didn’t lose water, which made me wonder if the estate has its own water system. Can you check? Does it use city water? Does it have its own water storage facility on site? I’ve heard that the Biltmore actually owns the Busbee reservoir up above Ray Kisiah Park. Is that correct?
My answer: This much is clear after the great water debacle of 2022: if you want to avoid water outages, it’s best to own your own reservoir.
Real answer: In this case, the southern end of Asheville and Buncombe County bore the brunt of the outages, and Biltmore lies to the north. Still, the estate did see some effects from the outage, which lasted in places from Christmas to Jan. 4.
“We had a significant reduction in water pressure for a short time, but we never lost water completely,” estate spokesperson LeeAnn Donnelly said via email. “We were under the ‘boil water’ advisory for a period of time.”
Another estate spokesperson, Marissa Jameson, gave a rundown of the estate’s water program.
“Biltmore uses some city water that mixes in a holding tank on our property with our own well water,” Jameson said via email. “We only utilize reservoirs on the estate for irrigation.”
The 8,000-acre estate has an extensive farm operation, ranging from grapes and sunflowers to sheep and chickens. The estate also has two hotels and numerous restaurants.
Jameson noted that the estate’s water system is governed by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, and “we are in compliance with all testing and distribution protocols.”
“You are correct that Biltmore owns the Busbee Reservoir,” Jameson said. “We do respectfully request that the location of reservoirs/the holding tank are not publicized as they are located in areas of the estate not open to the public.”
Busbee is not on the estate’s 8,000 acres of grounds. You can find it via Google pretty handily, so I think it’s OK to note that it lies between the Blue Ridge Parkway and Sweeten Creek Road, on the east side of town.
Question: I was just wondering what’s happening with the NCDOT project at the Overlook Road/ Hendersonville Road intersection. You had responded to a question about it when the project began last September — it was going to be some much needed improvements and additional lanes and was slated for completion at the end of 2022. Well, 2022 has come and gone, and the project still looks pretty far away from completion. It also looks like it has stalled or hit a snag. They’ve removed all of the heavy equipment from the site and have put down what looks like grass seed and straw, which I know is not something you do when you’re about to pave. Would you be able to look into this and find out what happened? I hope we’re still getting our improvements and extra turn lanes, which we really really need. Fingers crossed …
My answer: I am officially requesting that the NCDOT replace its weird little triskelion symbol with “fingers crossed.” I think that hits the nail on the head when it comes to our hopes for all of these road projects to be finished some day.
Real answer: See — crossing your fingers worked!
“The project is still coming,” Jody Lawrence, assistant construction engineer with the DOT’s Asheville office, said via email. “It will provide two left-turn lanes from Overlook Road, and one right-turn lane, to reduce congestion and backups at times when traffic is heavy.”
So, what’s the holdup?
“Delays in moving utility lines during the early phases of this $1.6 million project have delayed construction,” Lawrence said.
The contractor, NHM Constructors, opted “to pull off of the project until spring due to the seasonal freeze-thaw and winter weather patterns,” Lawrence said.
“These conditions, and nightly temperatures, are not conducive to road construction, especially since the majority of this work has to be done at night,” Lawrence said.
Regarding the grass cover, Lawrence said workers have stabilized the project area by applying temporary ground cover. Crews will monitor erosion control devices until they return in late March to complete the project, he said.
Got a question? Send it to John Boyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or (828) 337-0941.